tv Israeli Ambassador Nominee David Friedman Testifies at Confirmation Hearing CSPAN February 19, 2017 11:24am-1:21pm EST
sen. corker: in order to move on, first of all we are back in session, and in order to move on, senator udall, we will move on to you. sen. udall: thank you very much. i appreciate the hearing. i would like to put in the record the letter from the five ambassadors if it hasn't already been put in the record, bipartisan group of ambassadors that say that mr. friedman is unfit to be ambassador. sen. corker: without objection. sen. udall: and i'm in agreement with much of what they said.
i'm strongly opposed to this nominee. i believe secretary tillerson and president trump should recognize that mr. friedman is unfit for this or any other diplomatic office and withdraw him immediately. if not, i strongly recommend this committee not recommend him for confirmation. mr. friedman does not represent american values in the region. that is evident from his past statements, and they are not random, off-the-cuff remarks. much of his offensive rhetoric has been reported in the newspapers and repeated over and over. he has called for an arbitrary ban on many muslims entering the country. mr. friedman has stated that muslims should submit internet and telecommunications activity for inspection. and he has said, no need to worry about the first amendment. he has also said the rights of free speech do not apply to
muslims attempting to enter our country. just last week, the republican majority chose to censure a colleague under senate rule 19 for impugning bad conduct to a senator. if we truly care whether senators are maligned, we should look at mr. friedman's words , which i think had been mentioned earlier i mr. cardin, and i agree with him. talking about him rejecting but he hasnts, insulted and denigrated members of the senate including senator schumer and senator franken and mr. friedman said no matter how we ultimately vote or no matter how we ultimately vote that by making the decision a close call which is plainly not should be, schumer is validating the worst appeasement of terrorism since munich, end quote. when the anti-defamation league and senator franken criticized the trump ad as being anti-semitic, he said, quote, i
don't know how anybody can take the anti-defamation league seriously going forward. this is what happens when the people take these insane arguments to their logical extension. they lose all credibility and frankly they sound like morons, end quote. he has slandered president obama and his admin's vision, the blatant anti-semitism coming from our president and sycophantic minions is very disturbing. he has denigrated secretary clinton's personal views on israeli, and he says i don't think that she particularly likes israel, end quote. responding to president obama and secretary kerry's condemnation of the violence in israel, he said, engaging in blatant anti-semitism. end quote. we can all detect a pattern here.
anyone who disagrees with his extreme views or the approach to israel is an anti-semite. and for the record, he has, mr. friedman has said that he has a jews liberal -- liberal suffer a cognitive disconnect in identifying good and evil. by these words he disrespects many in the jewish community including my home state of new , mexico, where where i have a had many calls from new mexico urging that we are reject this nomination. such divisive and hateful comments against anyone who disagrees with him is unbecoming of the ambassador to any country. it is clear that mr. friedman's appointment would represent a profound break with decades of the decades of foreign policy to support a two-state solution, and resisting the legal -- illegal settlements that make a solution more remote. president president reagan said
that the settlement activity was in no way necessary for the security of israeli and diminishes the confidence of yasharabs that an outcome could be free and fairly done. israel and only diminishes the confidence of arabs and a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated. end quote. i wonder if president reagan were here today would mr. freedman label him anti-semetic. if we confirm him we are running a dangerous risk that mr. freedman will in -- friedman. we need a steady hand in the middle east. not a bomb throwing in a position of high power and responsibility. one final note, sometimes mr.
friedman doesn't stop at just merely name calling those who disagree with him. he wrote in an article in 2015 quote, jay street supporters are worse. jews who turned in their fellow jews in the nazis death camps. they are smug advocates of israel's destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure american sofas. it is hard to imagine anyone worse. end quote. that statement in a written article, not an off the cuff remarks, demonstrates his complete and total unfitness for this extremely important office. mr. chairman, i would like to enter all the source documents for all of these quotes in the official hearing record. >> without objection. >> thank you. if the majority wants to jam through all of president trump's diplomatic nominees they
probably can. but i urge them to caucus in private and talk to the president's team to see if we can move in a different direction. mr. friedman, have you ever issued a public apology for any of your insulting comments regarding other views on israel and middle eastern issues and will you today reject those comments here? could you turn on your microphone, please, sir. >> yes, i have and continue to reflect the inflammatory comments. i have reached out to a number of people who have been hurt by the things i have said or communicated to me that they would like to speak with me including the head of the union of american reformed rabbis, members of the new york rabbis, a personal meeting with senator frankin, a telephone call followed up with e-mails from
the anti-defamation league. in the latter two cases apologies were fully accepted and i expect in an ongoing basis those relationships and others will be inclusive and respect full. >> i know my time is out. i will submit questions for the record. but you invested massively in the settlement movement so i would like you for the record to answer in writing whether you separated your financial interest from that and all other settlements you have an interest in and have done so. i appreciate the chairman's courtesy in allowing me to run over a little bit. >> i don't know if that is a yes or no answer. >> i will be happy to submit the answers to all of your questions, senator. >> thank you. senator portman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate the opportunity to
hear you respond to some of those allegations and you use the word reject. i think you regret perhaps some of those comments. not to put words in your mouth but that is what i sense. you could have no better advocate than joe liberman and he knows you as a friend and colleague so you are smart to have brought him with you today. >> thank you. >> graham, i won't talk about. just kidding. he is fine, too. i do have concerns. this is not a typical ambassadorship. having been to israel and met with our ambassador there, let's be frank, in a lot of countries in the world it doesn't matter who the ambassador is. the state department as taken a
bigger role and foreign policy and even the white house plays a big role in certain countries. this is really important one. that person on the ground developing those relationships, i think is critical for two reasons. one, we have a lot of diversion points of view here. we are all supportive of israel, i think that is fair to say. i hope that is true. but there are different approaches to policies so an ambassador has to bring all these points of view together and provide council to our president and secretary of state and other national security ad visors. you will get a lot of visitors. some are confirmed from this body but also around the world. it is a very important role in terms of taking all these different points of view. so one of my questions for you is do you think you are capable of doing that? listing all points of view and being in some respects a broker to describe to our administration as to the best
approach forward? >> senator, thank you. yes, i do think i can do that. i think that bipartisanship has always been the hallmark of america's support for israel. as i have commented occasionally to several of the senators i have had the privilege to meet, i want to do everything i can to work with the members of congress to build upon much more than what unites us than divides us on the straight of israel. there are diverge views and i think they all need to be considered. if i am confirmed it will be a high proi priority of mine to
synsathize and harmonize. the state of israel is just as divid divided. >> let me continue. the second roll i would mention is the one you are sensing me which is the ambassador to israel is typically someone who has a personal relationship with not just the prime minister but members of the cabinet and members of the opposition parties because as you stay is diverse and sometimes a little chaotic in their parliament. do you think you can be effective there? specifically, how would you go about representing the united states of the america? would you be interested in more public or private conversations? do you feel you have relationships in the country beyond the existing power in
place? >> senator, on the issue of public or private comments. i happen to believe with regard to the state of israel discretion is important and i think public comments can be self-defeating. as you saw yesterday, people hang on every word that is issued on this subject whether or not the speaker intended that or not. i think you have to be careful. i think if there is progress to be made in the middle east and the peace process it is through private diplomacy, through forging agreements and coalitions and common interests behind the scenes. i think that is important. i do understand well the center, the left and right of the israeli administration. they are all good people.
many have sacrificed for their country, many paid the ultimate sacrifice through the loss of loved ones for their country. people on the left who have lost their families continue to maintain positions on the left and entitled to do so it is hard to bring that together. i know the issues and the players. i do think i have worked to develop a skill set that i think is complimentary to that task. >> in your law practice? >> yes. >> i want to raise bds and i think the ambassador to israel
will have to be someone who is a spokesperson for the u.s. point of view on this and will have the ability i hope to communicate to the rest of the world what it means for instance to have sanctions or boycotts with regard to the west bank. what does it mean for the gaza or the palestinian's? what are your views on bds. the congress is on record on this issue. we want to do more. talk about how you think you can be an effective communicate on the issue and pushing back combating this what i think is a global effort that needs strong support from the united states to combat it. >> i will be a fierce advocate against the bds movement and i understand ambassador nikki
haley as well said she will. i look at the company of soda stream which employed hundreds of thousands of israelis and palestinians and it was a para dime of them working together. they had to move and moved and the palestinian's lost their job. this is a self-defeating aspect for the palestinians and the israelis. >> my time has expired. >> thank you. senator cane. >> i want to talk about one thing and that was the press conference between benjamin netanyahu and president trump. the u.s. resolution since 1947 has been to support a partition of the area previously known as palestine into a jewish and arab state.
the idea of the two states has been the cornerstone of american foreign policy and reaffirmed by the u.s. palestinians and israel. yesterday president trump signaled potentially a different direction. and i am going to quote him. quote i am looking at two-state and one-state formations. i like the one that both parties like. i am very happy with the one both parties like. i can live with either one. as i read that, i assume both parties are israel and p palestini palestinians. that how you understood that comment? >> yes, i watched that from iphone with key interest. i wasn't involved in the meeting with the prime minister or lead up so i am learning as well as you. i heard it that way.
whatever the palestinian's and israels agree on. >> i think this is something with a unanimous view up here. u.s. policy should be to support a resolution that both parties like but if either or both parties don't accept it then the u.s. should not support that policy. is that fair? >> well, i couldn't speculate on the policy that might not gain bilateral support. certainly it has been the policy of this country for generations to force direct negotiations and help bring these a conclusion. >> but would you agree with the general thrust of the president's statement that i like the one that both parties like? >> certainly. >> regarding a two-state solution, israel would not accept any formation where a neighboring palestine refused to recognize it as the jewish state
c conte contemplated by resolution one. >> i think that is fair. >> and israel wouldn't like it where they will not live and treat them as a peaceful neighbor. agree with that? >> yes. >> based on the president's statement, if israel didn't like a two-state proposal then the united states couldn't sfoert based on this i like what both sides like. >> again, that the u.s. could not support -- i think i have to know more about what exactly the u.s. was being presented with. >> you wouldn't expect the u.s. to support a two-state deal where there is not a pledge to recognize israel's right to exist or israel's security? >> no, israel is one of your strongest allies. >> let me switch over to the one state. palestinians wouldn't like the one state options where they would be evacuated and forced to
leave there land, would they? >> i don't think so. >> and palestinians wouldn't like the one-state unless they had equal rights; correct? >> i don't think anyone would support a state where different classes of citizens have different rights. >> we talked yesterday not only would the u.s. be able to accept a situation where people were assigned a second-class status but from my somewhat experience in israel, the israelis i know would accept a one-state solution where palestinians were assigned to a second-class legal status. >> i don't israelis on the far right who would support that. it is immoral. >> based on the president's formati formation, a one state solution is only acceptable if palestinians accepted and they are not going to accept it if
they are treated as second-class citizens in that one state formati formation. >> i agree. >> let me summarize based on the president's theory and words we can support any formation that makes both sides happy. talking about israeli policy. the united states could never support a two-state solution if it didn't recognize the full state of israel and a commitment to leave in peace with israel. we could never support such a policy; correct? >> correct. >> and the u.s. could never support a one-side solution where palestinians are deprived of full and equal rights afforded to other citizens? >> i think so. >> i don't have any other questions, mr. chair. thank you. >> thank you. senator johnson. >> thank you. mr. friedman, thank you for your willingness it serve.
i have done a lot of negotiating myself. you have to sit down and negotiate in good faith. i think of a fundamental problem is you have the palestinians refusing israel's right to exist. is that the fundamental problem here? >> it has been the problem for a generation. >> i want to talk about you mention in your testimony that palestinians are being held hostage. in their education system for decades they have been teaching pretty vile thinks about israelis and jews. correct? >> yes, they have. >> in palestinian law they are rewarding terrorists, correct? it is an increasing incentive based on the number of people who are terrorists have murdered? >> exactly true. >> is it really true a majority of palestinians are being held hostage and would like a peaceful coexistence with the israel state? >> i believe the majority of palestinians would like peaceful
coexistence. >> i hope that is true. to what extent should america continue to provide foreign aid to the palestinian authority who they are teaching their young children the vile things they teach? when they are incentivizing pal tin stn terrorists to murder jews? >> i think it is an important question for congress to consider. we cannot continue to incentivize this behavior. i understand congress is looking at this and i certainly applaud that effort. >> do you know what your position is going to be on that? are we going to continue to provide the aid or condition foreign aid on some of their not teaching these things? not providing those incentives?
>> i don't know if the administration has a specific opinion on it but i would be glad to find out and get back to you. >> in 1991, i think israel recognized it was not working to have different rules of law applied. israel decided to they can the measure to apply israeli law in the golden heights. can you speak to what happened there? >> i think this is an importantly strategic area for israel. one can only imagine how israel would be suffering if they didn't have the heights and they were occupied by isis. it is not an area of conflict. there may be some conflicts but my experience is i think it worked out quite well. >> i want to speak for syrians
living there but if i were syrian i would rather be living there then let's say aleppo. >> i am sure that is true. >> one of the questions i asked european representatives if they had to move their family to the middle east and chose any country where would they chose to locate their family and i can tell you my answer would be israel. no final questions. thank you. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you for holding this important conformation hearing and thank you mr. friedman for your willingness to serve the u.s. government and american people. we had a pointed but constructive conversation yesterday and i will make an opening statement and ask a few questions. you are well known to the delaware bar and your legal skills are widely and well-respected. as many of my colleagues have asked questions around this that
is not the central concern raised by former ambassadors, raised at this hearing. it is not whether you are skilled at reaching complex legal situations but rather your statements should suggest to us in a unique circumstance with a president unskilled in diplomacy and inclined toward inflammatory tweets that your temperament is important for this post. let me first say one of my core concerns as we discuss is that the vital alliance between the united states and israel shouldn't be sacrificed on the alter of partisan politics. as a strong supporter of israel, i believe bipartisan in support of israel advances our nation, and israel's interest as well. i am concerned political forces into the united states and in israel are pulling officials
away from a sensible middle ground and toward increasingly extreme positions on the left and right. i think it is important this congress act in a way that reaffirms our bipartisan commitment to israel. we have a great deal at stake. iran continues to threaten israel and american interests and continues to destabilize the broader middle east. terrorist groups like isis and hezbollah jeopardize too many americans, israelis and arabs. israel is a vital partner for the united states. much of the media coverage surrounding our relationship focuses on shared challenges. but recent successes shouldn't go unnoticed. we discussed the ten year mou and the $38 billion of support that is the largest u.s. aid package ever and something i think president obama deserves
credit. israeli officials say our security cooperation and intelligence sharing has never been stronger. but i worry with so much to gain by further cooperation we are allowing actions and rhetoric by hardliners, both hardliners in israel, extreme palestinians and americans are droiiving us apar. i think there is the promise for the two-start solution and palestinians give israel a right to exist as a jewish state and direct their efforts toward sorting out their leadership and a plan for peace but both sides have to consider to what extent words and actions continue to grow. i am concerned both sides need to listen to each other and have to make sacrifices to come
together for everlasting peace. the demographic challenges facing israel are real and put pressures on the possibility of a jewish state in the long run but that is not our only challenge. i was concerned and disappointed president trump didn't support a two-state solution in the remarks exclusively. as the senator suggested it is very difficult to articulate a rational plan or framework in which palestinians would accept the sort of status required for a one-state solution to have liability. tomorrow i will meet with a large range of jewish representatives in my state and many have expressed concern given previous statements you made that were insulting and whether they would be welcomed,
valued in the u.s.-embassy in israel. i am concerned successful diplomacy means considering the consequences of our rhetoric and behavior. my central question is do you believe that in the role of ambassador, if confirmed, that you can act in a twhat welcomes and celebrates and validates the enti entire jewish and pro-israel community? and in a way that steers the trump administration and its agenda in the middle east toward peace and away from division and partnership? >> thank you, senator. the short answer is yes. i think it is extraordinarily important as we discussed yesterday to cause the issue of
israel to not be a political football. it never has been in the past. i deserve the criticism and i probably contributed to the problem. but we have all, i think, many people in the jewish community and pro-israel community have become more partisan, more separated when at the end of the day, they all support israel. they all love this country. they all want peace. i think on those common footings it is important to reunite the pro-israel community and i will pledge to you i will do everything i can to do that and i will be inclusive and respectful of different reviews. if i am fortunate enough to be confirmed i will solicit and consider all the views of people in good faith who want to strengthen the bond of the united states and israel. >> i appreciate that. i can't remember a previous conformation hearing for an
ambassador that was interrupted by protests repeatedly. the rhetoric of the campaign, the explosive environment in the middle east, the long standing deep divisions within israel and the region between israelis and palestinians insights very intense passion. your statements have been insulting and that has been great back and forth today. let me ask you simple questions. do you support or will you advocate for israeli anaxation in the west bank? >> i will not. >> do you believe a two-state solution the most ideal path toward peace? >> i think it is the most ideal. i think it is the path that has received the most thought, effort and consideration. obviously it has been tried for a long, long time and we continue to wrestle with it. much smarter people than me have
tried to make progress and have failed but it still remains, i believe, the best possibility for peace in the rengion. >> thank you, mr. friedman and thank you mr. chairman. >> mr. friedman, i enjoyed our time together talking for about an hour talking about a whole range of topics pertaining to the u.s. israeli relationship and lack of stability in the middle east and our national security. i think i shared i was a marine corp intelligence officer in a prior life and my role was to serve with the unit that flew around drones which were jointly developed with the state of israel. i came to appreciate through that spaerns the importance of -- experience -- information sharing between our two countries and also technology development. during my recent years as a member of congress, i have always come to appreciate the
importance of military aids and arm sales. israel and the u.s., we both understand confront common threats and we have shared ideals. our military cooperation benefits both countries. so i just need public reassurance that if confirmed would you do all you could to strengthen and deepen these military-to-military efforts of cooperation between our countries? >> senator, i would do all i could whether strategic, technological, or military basis it has been one of the great success stories of the relationship. i think very much benefiting both countries and i will do everything i can to continue to improve and strengthen that level of cooperation. >> sure. well, that is encouraging. closer to home, we have been doing our part in the state of indiana.
the indiana national guard has a long-standing relationship with the israeli defense forces. since at least 2010, our guard has joined counterparts in israel in con conducting combined training lessons. our guards travel to jerusalem, bloomington, indiana, and other places. i know the idf is not helpful in preparing for their own defense. 65 indiana national guard soldiers participated in an operation known as united front. it was search and rescue operations conducted in israel. i just urge you to continue to seek more of these opportunities should you be confirmed as ambassador as i think is highly probably. like to turn briefly to the
issue of the prospect of peace between the palestinians and israel. do you believe an agreement could be reached between the israeli government and palestinian with their leader at the helm? >> i would hope so, senator. but i think the challenges are daunting. i would point out that their president refuses to accept israeli as a jewess state. the palestinian authority is preferable to hamas but i still think they have positions that are inconsistent with reachi reachingpie reachingpiece -- reaching peace. >> do you see a successor with
whom we might be able to do business with in an easier fashion? maybe you could speak to what is perceived by some to be a chaotic succession crisis occurring between palestinian leaders. >> there appears to be a crisis almost by definition when you have a president whose exceeded his elected term by 7-8 years past his electoral mandate. i hope there is a new generation of palestinians that want what everybody wants which is a better life and an opportunity to live in peace. it seems obvious they are out there. i know some palestinians who are just like everybody else. i would venture that the vast majority just want what
everybody in the world want. we have to do what we can to help foster both economically and politically the development of that political class and an accompanying middle class to try to draw out that type of leadership. >> yesterday as has been mentioned prime minister benjamin netanyahu laid out his two requisites for piece. representation of a jewish -- recollection recognition of the jewe jewe jewess state and security control over the western area. what does that mean? >> it is the analog to the naval control with regard to hamas.
an ex extraordinary risk of weapons transfers in that area if the israelis didn't block the flow into gaza there would be even more horrific weapons than there are now. i think the prime minister is concerned of a comparable flow of weapons into the jordan and the palestinian state. that is an israeli redline in terms of their own security. >> this would likely require with perputual presence of military forces on the grund in that area. >> i don't know how control would be achieved. again, i am not an expert in that. but it would require some military control of the border, yes. >> can you conceive of palestinian leaders who would be amenable to this sort of situation? >> not today.
i think that ultimately it would be in their interest as well to top the flow of arms into a state that should be demilt demilitariz demilitarized. at this point i think the answer is no. >> lastly, what role might the saudi arabians and emrites play in moving forward and helping to advance a potential agreement between the pal satangestiniapa israelis? >> i think as we heard yesterday in the prime minister's speech they seem to be more amenable to productive discussions than in the past. israel does not seem to be the third rail that it once was with regard to these countries. from what i heard at the press conference yesterday based upon what i heard, it would seem that
is a productive avenue for future discussions. >> i think the prime minister has been clear when he talks about security in the west bank he is talking about forever military presence. i don't think he has been flexible on that. do you agree? >> yes. >> senator booker. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you first of all for come to my office. i appreciated the respect you showed me and appreciate our conver sayi conversations especially seeing the depth of your love for israel. something i admire. i want to zone in on some of the things that have been said and discussed. i have grave concerns about the volume and breadth of your past statements as we have discussed a bit in my office. you stated in your testimony you regret some of these particular hurtful language you used
against not only president obama but secretary clinton. two people who have spent a krsh amount of their lives in service. you talk about president obama is engaging in blatant anti semitism and other words. you don't believe president obama is an anti-semite do you? >> not at all. i thought the word he used when accusing wealthy donors making common cause with the mullahs. >> your comment about president obama were not just about that instance. you said -- let's move on to senator kaine who you heard give a thoughtful discussion about the state of israel.
you call him an israel basher. do you don't believe he is an israel basher do you? >> no, i had a great meeting with him yesterday and learned a lot i didn't know about him. i retract that statement. it was absolutely wrong. >> comments go on about the sitting members on the senate you made in the past. secretary clinton, former senator clinton, you talk about her having anti semitic behavior. you said making the decision a close call which plainly it should not be. and you said senator schumer is violating the worst appeasement of terrorism since munich. these words are very dramatic. that obviously, to me, i try to find other ambassadors who said
such things. you would agree we are not just policy disagreements or the heat of a politician. those are comments that actually demean the character of another human being. would you agree they were demeaning to the character of those individuals? >> i tried to criticize the words rather than the person but i can certainly understand how it extended to the character. it was not intentional but i certainly understand that. >> sir, you and i both from our family histories know a lot about people demeaning folks. we know a lot about hate speech and hate words. >> we do. >> we know when people dismiss things as just words they are belittling the harm it does to individuals and entire communities. do you agree with that? >> i would. >> you always attacked the state department saying the state department has a hundred year history of anti-semitism with
the agreements to support a two-state solution. you also said four months ago you gave a speech in which you referred to the state department has been anti-semitic and anti israel for the vast 70 years. the ambassadors, republicans and democrats, wrote letters and took issues with someone who is going to be working now with the state department to cast such a broad net over the incredible professionals that work there who often put themselves in harms way for this country, who make sacrifices for their family of resources. they write mr. friedman accused president obama and the whole staff of anti-semitism. he has referred to the anti-defamation league as morons.
characterized support of a liberal jewish organization. the jews who cooperate d with the nazis during the holocaust. they say these are extreme radical positions. words like k-pos resonate with me in particular because they reflect words again that you and i both know personally from your family histories. how cruel mean-spirited that kind of language is. you understand that; right? >> i understand it, senator. and in addition to understanding it, in the course of thousands of e-mails i received in response to those comments, i received an e-mail from some of those comments were unrepeatable and some frightening but a few were extraordinarily touching. one from a holocaust survivor
who wrote me and said he survived the holocaust, he loves israel with all his heart and he disagreed with me on the best tactics to support israel but felt i invalidated the good faith of his position. the last person i would want to offend is someone like that and something i deeply regret. >> so your past comments, and i understand you are apologizing but we know the difference between apology and atonement. >> i think an apology is the first step. >> you are looking to be in a position as a diplomat at a time where you are entering an area of the globe that is delicate to say the least, in which there is tremendous passion and my luven and your love of the state of
israel often, as you said earlier in your testimony, measured words the wrong way can have great ramifications. >> yes. >> i have deep concerns with the history you have of uttering words and not understanding the ramifications even in the american context those would v. kwnt i want to ask you about u.s. id programs going on in the west bank. do you have intention to visit the west bank should you be ruled ambassador? >> if the laws are changed. >> do you have intention of visiting the temple mow? >> no, i never have. i have been to israel countless times and never visited. >> mr. chairman, i am grateful for your allowance of going over tie -- my time. >> senator rubio. >> i find this whole process to
be unreal. this sort of ordeal you are being put through to account oro all these words. jay street invited the chief palestinian negotiator, a person who justified the murder of jews is a person they invited to peek thart conference -- speak. this is a group that has smear campaigns in my opinion. the second thing we are con fronting is what i believe is this existence orthodoxy among many people in the state department and so-called smart people that somehow the united states needs to be a fair and balanced arbiter in the situation in the middle east. i don't understand that view.
first of all, my view is that israel is our strongest ally in the region. in addition to the moral obligation zee to conducted by some and the palestinian leadership. this is what you are going to con front when you are confirmed in terms of the state department. there is this misconception that you somehow issued a wholesale rejection of the two-state solution. you testified here saying in a
perfect world you will have a few -- jewish and palestinian state living side by side to each other. for example, i would say one of the biggest obstacles to that is efforts by the previous administration to pressure israel and to impose upon them a negotiated settlement outside the bounds of what the jewish and israel people support and what is in the interest of the nation of israel. the leadership of the palestinian authority recognizing israel's right to exist as a jewish state. not just israel's right to exist but the homeland for the jewish people. that is a big impediment to the deal. how will you negotiate a peaceful agreement? how about the wholesale
systematic indoctrination of young palestinians into the doctrine of murder and the murdering of jews that begins at a young age. the international efforts to impose on israel a negotiated solution along the terms that others think are problem is a bigger impediment to me. the in citement of violence is also an impediment. when they go around justifying attacks and dedicate monuments to martyrs that are nothing but terrorists. when they spread rumors on what the israeli government is going to do these things incite violence. i view these things as bigger impediments. your position is not that you are opposed, i think it is
accurate to say, but that you recognize at this moment, given the circumstances that exist in the world and in that region it is not likely to have that outcome. hopefully that will change. hopefully the palestinians will have better leadership, be more prosperous, have an opportunity to grow their economy and maybe in 5, 15, 20 years we all hope there will be the opportunity for this to occur. but right now those conditions are not in place and the worst thing we can do is try to impose ourn most loyal and important ally in the region. that is bad for the security and their future. is that an accurate characterization of your feelings with regard to the two-state solution? >> i think it is, senator. >> mr. chairman, i want to submit a letter from the orthodox jewish americans organization.
>> no objection. >> as an ambassador you vole to advocate and implement the policy of the president. is that correct? >> a hundred percent correct. >> on any issue, whether it is the location of the embassy, our position on any given matter, it is your job ultimately to be an advocate for the decisions made by the oval office and not your personal views? >> i will be an advocate for the president in the same way i am for clients. my personal views are subordinate to the president and the secretary of state. >> thank you. senator sheen. >> thoank you, mr. chairman and thank you mr. friedman for taking time to meet me. i will not relitigate the concerns people have raised about your statements with
respect because senators and the former president although i share those concerns. but i am concerned about an article you wrote in november of 2015 talking about russia's intervention in syria. you held up that intervention as a model and predicted that they would succeed in defeating isis. the title of the article is "learn a lesson from russia" and i would have the chairman it be entered into the record. >> without objection. >> i think at that time we had seen news reports about russia's failure to go after isis. .... .... no.
although in that article you did characterize the situation as american leaders pursing the stellar military commanders fighting with two arms and leg tied behind their back maybe a flood but he knows how to execute a military plan and prevail. in the article you refer to the global coalition to counter isis as the coalition of cowards and freeloaders and hypocrites left behind from the american president. did you think that type of rhetoric is conducive to securing partners quick. >> that this from a private person from that objective. >> i appreciate the comments that you made to insurer
that the israeli arabs are treated fairly when you met with me yesterday. i have heard troubling stories from arab-americans who say discrimination by israel authorities for no other reason than to have the era of blass name -- how would lead you address that concern if you hear that from the arab-americans? gimmick guy with beady ambassador for arab-americans or any other and it is inexcusable to discriminate on the basis of a nationality or religion or otherwise.
i would want to engage with the israelis to understand the process and encourage them obviously they have their own national security issues that we respect the that is not the basis especially against the american population within a process that is discriminatory. to make sure it did not proceed. >> you have written by a policy while simultaneously distilling the benefits. can you clarify if there are any circumstances that the citizens of israel should be stripped of their benefits and what could be removed?
we make in the context of criminal activity not on the basis of a nationality certainly. just to be clear idol support any activity anywhere that is based upon one's nation of origin. >> how you feel about the president's executive order on immigration? >> i expect -- respect the temporary ban to keep the country safe ; another was no incidents from terrorists from those seven countries that we can point to? >> senator, i don't know i was not involved in that order by a did not have access to the classified hearings. >> by reading excerpts pommel letter that i received from a constituent in new hampshire said in this letter is a jewish
constituent my great of goal survived the holocaust horrified known as the collaborator. he was born 1920 in poland and was in auschwitz concentration camp losing his mother and sister during the holocaust in was only able to survive to this talent to fix watches. is this such as shames of did that survived the brutality of the machine and who lost so many lost ones that the david friedman would be and nazi collaborator and not standing up for what you believe is right. what do i tell my constituent why she should feel differently that you could represent her and you
are not disparaging people who have heard use quick. >> i would be happy to give you my number and i would apologize personally. i am sorry and i apologize have liked to make amends. >> i just have an observation first of all, we had a very good meeting. thanks for being here. you are here today having to recant every single strongly held belief that you have expressed almost. i am just curious about this job if you're willing to recant every single strongly held belief that you had if you could share that with us.
it is interesting you have done a lot of listening sometimes people running for public office say things but this is fairly extraordinary and i wonder if you would share with us why you are willing to do that. >> the opportunity to serve my country as ambassador is the fulfillment of a life's dream and work of a life of study of the people, a culture, politics of the israeli society. one of the great things i love about this country was the first to recognize israel steadfast through thick and thin over very many challenging circumstances. i believe based upon my relationship with the
country and its people like to be helpful in and do good. based upon the relationship with the president i can help him get to the right place. and to bring peace to the region, my views are my views. some of the meyer recant the rhetoric that i have caused and the effort to i have caused. i will do a better job going forward with the diplomatic mission is very different and to be a private citizen writing articles. but this is something really want to do because i think i can do it well. there is nothing more important to me than strengthening the bonds between the united states and israel. >> mr. chairman.
>> just to continue on that theme how important is it to congress to have the support of were the years? that congress is the enduring institution and has always been marked bye-bye partisanship. can you talk about the importance of that? >> i can. is the exception rather than of the rule that congress has divided over like israel. really is not a political issue but very much a moral issue. united states stands with israel obviously because in the united states of common interest first and foremost, the relationship is often shared values that
non-political with that direct connection with the democracy to human-rights. and to me it would be greatly disappointing if i could not help the united states relationship with israel. >> let me just address the comments yesterday from the prime minister visit. that they would report that we are no longer committed to the two-state solution. for wine, i don't see that break that framework is to have lasting peace but is
there any likelihood at all that the fundamental principles through direct negotiations arrive in a solution? or that the parties would adopt a thing other than the two-state solution and? what are your thoughts on that? >> si no evidence of an appetite by the palestinians for the one state solution. but i guess if happens we will notice it. >> but the bedrock principle but you don't have the assad body like the security council including the united states. >> correct.
>>. >> thinks mr. chairman and being here today and your willingness to serve. the open questions the of reason and brcs basking you about these detailed statements that have been supportive and diplomatic have not only spend that it is just day political football. we had differences but most important but today that is not the case in the short time from public service it has gone from an issue that
you did this to divide us. your ass these questions because we're very worried what the future holds. your renomination is is one of the strongest partisan to call democrats won full times --- times but we're in with the rough and stretch and. >> if that is the intent move would have been better suited to play that role. will and the senator is right. with but those recantation sanders soon as but those words that you said so let
me just make sure i hear you say you regret those words but have you changed your opinion on that matter? >> i have profound differences of opinion with the j. -- but i do not respect those views in and to recognize that everyone is as and title then i am if not i am not with drying my personal views. >> is your personal view that j. street and the
supporters of the of world war ii era? >> let me ask about the word >> you have an action. :but the push fact is that it's it is a description of one what why is it in someone's heart when somebody hates jews and carries out actions based on the belief. digest went to make sure that you believe the you
call me anti-semitic quite. >> i do not agree because that'd is perceived by some of with the long history to be helpfully and intentionally one. >> but perception is in the nine of the beholder. of the phrase but it is not about the motivation of the individual but whether my actions or words can be described.
>> but as acid and routes could be even though the speaker. >> you call my actions anti-semitic even though i have no desire to discriminate. >> yes. off i can challenge your words about challenging the motives. >> that donald trump will flare new shawm's a and the state department but those in the department not share
in canton poured more but to suggest the typical means and that is within the department. your statement suggests that you agree with that the president should fire individuals. is that is stephens at when you shoot to see. >> note senator prepared any mom negative in the executive has the right but people met are intended both
us and i think that is where the president is now. >> of the strategic outlook for israel in the region so what is happening with the iran deal or georgian? can use talked-about the strategic outlook for the region. >> in a and without real litigating pierre brand deal that was very much against it.
that page is the page we ought to be focusing on as we can. >> when we were in israel delegation and we've visited the iron dome celebrations could be taken place and of those that were celebrating right by the iron dome facility. to think the mention of daylight between the two nations and we have to spend time as united states and israel to reassure to say there is no daylight between the two nations and i will work with you to make that happen. >> congratulations on your nomination and will come to
measured and tempered. and i get a sense that your love for the stated this real over love -- overwhelms your language kobe cannot have an ambassador says much as they maybe route --- maybe move to some did that will not bend the will to that but if there is a national interest for security of the united states. can you say that is where your loyalty and. >> but those won't comments and they have apologized to its indigenous rival takes
that represents the best of the israeli people. the hezbollah capture essence of your feelings toward both palestinians and israelis? mr. friedman: it does, senator. i was in israel this past summer when an eight-year-old boy gave an award to a muslim volunteer at the united had zola. the muslim volunteer had told his mother out of a burning car a year and a half earlier, saved her life, and the boy -- jewish boy give this award to a muslim volunteer for saving his mother's life. i don't think there was a dry eye in the house. because of theon
way it operates represents the very best of all the israeli people. it give you great hope and optimism for the future. do you believe the life of a palestinian child is the child? an israeli mr. friedman: absolutely. sen.: do you believe that they have the right to self governing ?hemselves mr. friedman: i do. senator: i assume that whatever personal interest you may have in israel that you will wall those often such a way that that will not be a question as well. mr. friedman: i would need to sell my business interest in israel. senator: finally. is amight think that this nomination conversion versus a
your nomination. i think sometimes there is a presumption that america isand is in charge of everything and we are going to tell everybody the way things are going to be and it endorses the sovereign of the of other nations frankly, particularly in the piece peace process. it doesn't look like there is peace yet, so maybe there ought to be other thoughts. i'm not here to say what the best peace process is, but maybe we need to take a step back and realize that any type of these process will have to take agreement from both sides. what both sides of the conflict think is more important than us. doesn't mean i don't think we should have any role, but not to be presumptuous as to dictate the role. the same should apply the settlements. i know you have your opinion on settlements, but it's not our country. we don't live there. i'm not saying it's not a
problem, but i'm not so sure the united states should dictate this. that being said, i think we ought to be aware of the ramifications of policy and we can voice our opinions on these. i think yours have been very strong in favor of settlement. my question is -- this has come up recently with the press conference. president trump has actually sort of moist hesitancy to the 5400 new units in the west bank. while i might hear what to say my opinion is or what the government should tell israel what to do, i should say we ought to account for and think about what 5400 new settlements in the west bank due to the possibility of peace. open to thinking of what the ramifications are and that there is another side to the settlement issue other than saying we should build everywhere all the time? mr. friedman: yes. sen. paul: i think that's the open-mindedness that people want to hear and want to know. and that there are ramifications
and that you will listen. i think sometimes particularly in our country that everyone thinks alike in israel. in anything, they have more diversity of opinion and thought on issues than we do and you aserstand that it your job ambassador is to understand that maybe a third of the population of israel, maybe 40%, but a significant number don't want new settlements in the west bank either. i think your job will be to report that to the president and let him know the different viewpoints within israel. what are the ramifications of new settlement even if we don't get a say? the capital is different. israel gets to decide the capital of the country, but what we have discussed about is that no one else has an embassy there. there will be ramifications if we move it. are you a thoughtful individual? will you think about the ramifications? will we think to ourselves long and thousand israeli
soldiers died because of it or somehow americans are caught up in it that it will be something that is worth our while if we do it for the symbolism of it. will you think through the ramifications of that and advise the president that there's more than one side to the issue? mr. friedman: yes. the decision will obviously be made by the president and i'm confident and i will support him considering all the political security and other ramifications associated with it. don't put myself out as an expert or someone who answer to middle east peace. i wish i did. having traveled there once, i have an opinion like everyone else. my opinion is that it is elusive and i'm fairly justified in that. i would say that i can back from israel thinking that her best hope is incremental change. it's an equation where israel does hold most of the cards and most of the power. the have an unparalleled military and i do not think
things will change militarily. these are the facts on the ground. i will say there is a chance for improvement, but it will be incremental. i met with palestinian businessman and some of the ones you refer to recently. they mentioned areas in the west bank. when you look at which areas are controlled i people, arabs have seized 80% of the west bank and they don't feel like they have access to it. drilling forn from minerals and setting up enterprises to make more money. meetvice would be to with palestinian businessmen and women and see if there was a way that we could lessen hostility between the two groups, when we see if there is a way that palestinians can make more money? there all caps of things which is elusive that we could do. i want to know that you are open-minded to saying that we are less likely to have award the more we trade and the more we have interaction.
re: open-minded enough to hear from the palestinians on what to do to enhance and lesson hostilities? mr. friedman: i would be excited to have those discussions. sen. paul: i think we could do some of that here. there is some of that here between the different parties. some of that can be done over here, but it is important that you project to them that you are open-minded on these things because you have had. i have had strong opinions, too. having strong opinions is in the fall, but you have to show people you are open-minded enough to be a diplomat, which means hearing from and talking to both parties and understanding the complexity and ramifications of the little policy that happens over there. mr. friedman: i will, senator. chairman: senator markey. senator: thank you a much. mr. friedman, in our office, we talk about a two state solution. we talked about what may be
possible. you set was the gold standard, but in our conversation, and perhaps you can help me flesh this out further. scenario ind a which the west bank could be whereorated into israel they could maintain their jewish and democratic identity. can you look at those numbers and how you would use that as an alternative? mr. friedman: i don't view it as an alternative. the discussion was more in the hypothetical, but i think that there is a general conventional wisdom that israel can either be jewish or democratic but not both under that type of the scenario.
i don't know the demographics of the west bank well enough. there are multiple studies that have been done. i think democratics of the west part of very important moving forward think we all have the same data. the swings of population assumptions go from a million and a half to 3 million. at a million and a half arabs, it is one scenario. at 3 million, it could be another. i don't know which is true. i was speaking the hypothetical. because demographics matters to any discussion, we ought to have good data. i would certainly encourage the israelis on a nonpartisan basis to get better data on this demographics. sen. markey: do you think
palestinians would accept the solution that would incorporate israel and the demographics were such that they would remain the minority and gaza was excluded from a final agreement? do you think there is a scenario in which the palestinians could created that that new entity and kept the palestinians in a permanent minority within that greater israel that would've been created? mr. friedman: i can't imagine that either israel or the palestinians would accept a scenario where there were different rights for different citizens and terms of whether the palestinians were in the majority or the minority. i cannot speak for them. i would only point out that israel itself has a very good good record of providing education, health care, commercial opportunities, human rights, rights to the lb gt q
community, supports of women's right. that might be something that the palestinians and the west bank might be attracted to, but i would never speak for them. sen. markey: so you don't personally support israeli annexation of the west by? bank? mr. friedman: no, i do not. sen. markey: that would have to be part of an agreement? mr. friedman: all this has to be agreed to by the parties or else it won't proceed . mr. friedman: it is hard for me to envision a situation where the palestinians would allow a division of questions. sen. markey: its residents did not have the rights that were vested with the citizens of that part of the palestinian population. if you could, you talked about
at two state solution is the best possibility. could you give us another possibility in your mind that you think could unfold in terms of an agreement that could be reached between the israelis and the palestinians? mr. friedman: sitting here today, i don't have a better option. sen. markey: you don't have a better option? mr. friedman: i don't. sen. markey: i know this terrain has already been traveled in the hearing, but if i could, i would like to go out and talk a little the settlement. and some of the comments from people who are out there that it is training students to "successfully delegitimize the notion of a two state solution and creating facts on the ground in the face of the international community's desire to uproot us." can you talk about comments like that coming out of that
and your views on those comments in terms of its implication far-reaching a two state solution? i think they are a challenge among many to achieving a two state solution. i should point out that my affiliation as the president of the american friends of the anda center, we support girls high school and the boys high school and it primarily drives for my commitment to jewish education. the quality of the schools are excellent and everything we have given money to has been in the nature of gymnasiums, dormitories, dining rooms, classrooms, things like that. has notvity of their been connected to their political activity. sen. markey: is that land was solutionin a two state
and that land had to be returned to the palestinians, would you were support the return of atlanta the palestinians --that land to the palestinians? mr. friedman: in the context of a two state solution, yes. senator: i have questions i've refrain from asking until the end, but i know senator cardin has some questions. with no disrespect to the chairman, i have a commitment. friedman fornk mr. your patience and thank you very much again for your willingness to serve and your passion for the relationship between israel and the united states. it comes across very clearly from your testimony and i want to underscore that. the white house issued a statement on february 2 same we do not believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful to achieving that goal.
regard tour view in expansion of settlements and new settlements? mr. friedman: i think the expansion of settlements into and beyondritories borders may not be helpful. it makes sense to tread very carefully in that area. sen. cardin: thank you. the last point that i will ask for the record -- we have been talking about the west bank but very little about gaza. gaza is much more difficult than the west bank. my office toce in talk a little bit about gaza, but i want to put that on the record. it is a complicated situation on how you deal with gaza if you do not have a viable two state process moving forward. thank you, mr. chairman. chairman: thank you. i saw the headline you had written about the two state solution being somewhat of an allusion. yesterday i and others had a meeting with the prime minister netanyahu who we all respect
greatly. i'm not going to say what he said in a private meeting, but it was a much along the same lines that he has constantly in pastlicly, which comments has referred to the fact that until the palestinians are willing to accept israel's right to exist, it's very difficult have a two state solution. he refers rightly so to the fact one of his great responsibilities is the security of the people of israel and that there's not a time that you can see in the future ever where there's not military presence by the israelis in the west bank. we keep talking about the west bank because it's a place that's most likely for something good to happen. gaza obviously is way beyond that. i do wonder, especially after
but also seeing all the many efforts that have been put in place around the two state solution. i know tony blair, i don't know how many times he has been to the area. i think you told me once that he had been here 160 times and his wife made the joke -- tony, it's not the amount of effort, it's the result. of course, there has been none. are we helping the situation by continually talking about a two state solution when having a military presence with the west is really something different than the two state solution? it's a serious question and i'm beginning to wonder whether we are verbalizing this in the appropriate manner.
it's not a gotcha question. it's an honest question. i know you have expressed very strong feelings. in theyou think that we public arena talk about things and keep holding something out regarding many conflicts around the world that maybe is not achievable based on the facts on the ground. i'm just wondering what your observation would be regarding that. mr. friedman: rabin is regarded universally as the architect of the two state solution and give his life in pursuit of the two state solution. he himself that his vision was for either state minas or something like that. areink the challenges here israel's security and the palestinians quality-of-life. i don't know of the palestinian people at this juncture care
more about the flag over their heads and who's leading them as they care about reducing the unemployment rate down from an ungovernable level to a manageable level. i've heard palestinians decry their leadership and they are no friends of israel either. i suspect that the key to the region's economic empowerment, .ot political debates until i'm proven wrong, which could be sent, i would work to try to improve the economic levels. sen. corker: i absolutely think that is something that needs to occur. in my last trip there and speaking with the prime minister , that certainly was the focus. i will say the flipside of that is when you know you have got settlements out here and you got to have security around the settlements. it is very difficult to the commerce in between.
let's face it. it's more than burdensome. i'm not criticizing. i'm just observing that it's very difficult to do commerce when you're dealing with that. again back to it, what would be a better way of describing the state there because a that has been an item forever realisticlitary, for security measures, has a military of another country in it, what would we call that? state minas is not particularly a good description. we talk about this and use rhetoric that i'm beginning to believe is unrealistic rhetoric . i don't know that it's useful in
getting a solution when you are describing something that to me is becoming more and more unrealistic for many, many reasons. i'm not casting blame. mr. friedman: senator, candidly i do not have a good answer to your question and i don't have a good word to articulate a vision. it's an enormous challenge . it's a very big rubiks cube we try to wrestle with everyday. i take the medical approach even though i'm not a doctor to this, which is let's not make this worse. let's do no harm and try to make it better. that's the only advice i have right now. sen. corker: i think your response on the settlements indicates -- let me ask you this. do you think prime minister netanyahu has been very clear on this for many years? you know israel well. do you think the vision of military presence in the west
viewforever is the general of sort of the mainstream of knesset there? thefriedman: i think control of the jordan valley is something which people on the left and the right agree upon. the single most important feature of any palestinian state. does it mean it would have to be military embedded within the communities or even the towns, but at the perimeter, i do believe that on the left and the right there is unanimity that there must be controlled the perimeter. sen. corker: it seems to me that if that is the case, and i agree with you, i think that is the case. seems to me that we are at a point in time where we ought to be discussing the future. at least the future for next 20 or 30 years anyway in a different way.
i don't know exactly how to describe that either. injust seems to me that addition to having a partner that is not a real partner on the palestinian side that there are -- there is a vision on the israeli side that is not fully compatible with what we would normally describe as a two state solution. again, it's just an observation. it seems to me that we would be better off as a world community to talk about it in terms that are different than what we are talking about right now. mr. friedman: you heard the president yesterday use the term the larger canvas. i've not had a chance to speak with him about that and flesh out those concepts, but i think certainly an open mind and a commitment to peace above all to improve qualities of life is a
step in the right direction. sen. corker: listen, you have acquitted yourself while today. you have been here for many hours as has your family. we thank you for your willingness to serve. there will be additional questions coming from folks and we might keep the record open until the close of business friday. my sense is you will want to answer those questions fairly promptly. without further questions or comments, the meeting is adjourned. thank you. mr. friedman: thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
>> there are still several commo cabinet nominees to be considered by the senate. when they resume monday, they will look at the nomination of wilbur ross as commerce secretary. later in the week, debate continues on other nominees, including m carson for housing secretary, congressman ryan's inky for interior secretary, and former texas governor rick perry for amon g -- energy secretary. as always, you can follow the senate live on c-span two.
president trump is spending the weekend in florida, where he held a campaign style rally yesterday. he spoke about his accompaniments in the first few weeks and continued his critique of the media. that was the topic on the sunday talk shows this morning where lawmakers and white house chief of staff, writes previous, where asked about the role in reaction to recent tweets by the president. >> fake news media, failing new york times is not my enemy. it is the enemy of the amazing people. do you believe the press is the enemy? do you believe any group of americans are the enemy of another group of americans? senator mccain: i was talking about the. of a new world order a fundamental part of that new world order was a free press. i hit the press. i hate you especially. .he fact is we need you we need a free press. we must have it. it's vital.
if you want to preserve -- i'm very serious now -- if you want to preserve democracy as you know it, we have to have a free and many times adversarial press. without it, i am afraid we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. that is how dictators get started. chuck: that's how dictators get started -- with tweets like that? senator mccain: they get started by suppressing free press. in other words, a consolidation of power. the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. i'm not saying that president trump is trying to be a dictator . i'm saying we need to learn the lessons of history. >> i do not think i would have to to be more shocked by the president, but this to me was the most devastating and alarming that he essentially views the first amendment -- because that is what these organizations represent -- as an enemy of the people.